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Winter Weather Warning: Safeguarding Against the Invisible Killer (CO Poisoning)

Using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. Learn to recognize the most common symptoms of CO poisoning, and keep you and your family safe from this "invisible killer"...

When power outages occur after severe weather (such as ice storms), using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside.

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires. Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don't have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.


If you're considering using a gasoline-powered portable generator to temporarily power appliances and heaters to cook and stay warm, you need to know these five facts.

FACT #1:
The exhaust from portable generators contains poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) which can kill you and your family in minutes.

FACT #2:
NEVER use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Run the generator OUTSIDE ONLY, at least 20 feet from the house and away from your home’s windows and vents to keep those harmful fumes away.

FACT #3:
Carbon monoxide is an “invisible killer.” You cannot see or smell it. It can quickly incapacitate and kill you.

FACT #4:
Have working CO alarms in your home. There should be a CO alarm outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.

FACT #5:
If a CO alarm goes off, DO NOT ignore it. Get everyone out of the house and then call 911 and let firefighters handle it.


How to Recognize CO Poisoning
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

CO Poisoning Prevention Tips
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.




Hidden Dangers of Halloween

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there have been at least 15 cases of burn injuries and one death involving kids' Halloween costumes (since 1980. Add to that an average of 920 home structure fires cause by decorations, resulting in 47 injuries and 12.8 million in property damages per year, making Halloween a potentially dangerous holiday.

This year make sure your home and family are safe from these potential dangers. Following the simple fire safety precautions below, can help keep your Halloween, safe, fun and danger-free:

  • When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can clearly see out of them.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
  • When decorating inside the home, consider using battery operated candles instead of regular burning candles.
  • Don't overload electrical circuits
  • Don't use frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged electrical cords.




Car Fire Safety Tips

According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) on average, a car catches fire every 4 minutes! And with more drivers hitting the roads this summer (according to AAA) due to a growing economy and low gasoline prices, the importance of car fire safety becomes increasingly important.

Cars can catch fire for many reasons. Mechanical or electrical issues are the most common cause. A car can also catch fire as the result of a bad crash. If you see smoke or flames or smell burning rubber or plastic, respond immediately.

Most car fluids are flammable. Heat and electrical sparks plus leaking fluid are all it takes to start a car fire. Although most crashes do NOT result in fire, in the event of any crash, call 9-1-1. If there is no sign of fire, wait for emergency assistance to help any injured individuals out of the car.

What To Do If Your Car Is On Fire

  • Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, be sure to use your signal as you make your way to a safe location off the road such as the breakdown lane or rest stop.
  • Once you have stopped, TURN OFF the engine.
  • Get everyone out of the car. Never return to a burning car to retrieve anything.
  • Move everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car and well away from traffic.
  • Call 911.

How To Prevent A Car Fire
  • Have your car serviced regularly by a professionally trained mechanic. If you spot leaks, your car is not running properly, get it checked. A well-maintained car is less likely to have a fire.
  • If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small amount in a certified gas can that is sealed. Keep a window open for ventilation.
  • Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment.
  • Never park a car where flammables, such as grass, are touching the catalytic converter.
  • Drive safely to avoid an accident.

Know The Danger Signs
  • Cracked or loose wiring or electrical problems, including a fuse that blows more than once
  • Oil or fluid leaks
  • Oil cap not on securely


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